Fear not, there are simple, low-cost modifications you can make to your bike that will give your belly some extra room. This tutorial will show you how to bring your handlebars both higher up and closer to your seat, without changing anything else on the bike. Depending on your bike (and belly!) you can do both of these modifications or pick just one.
1) Start with your bike of choice. The stem (part that sticks forward) and steerer (vertical part) are what we will be replacing.
2a) Buy a stem that is shorter than your current stem, angled upright, or both. You will need the handlebar width and steerer tube size of your bike, both of which there are standard sizes for (check out this stem guide). My road bike has a handlebar width of 25.4mm and steerer size of 1 1/8 inches. I opted for a stem 60mm in length with a 35 degree angle, similar to this one.
2b) Buy a steerer extender the same width as your current steerer. I opted for a 1 1/8 inch extender similar to this one. A local bike shop can help you buy the right replacements. You will also need two sets of allen wrenches and some vaseline.
3) Remove the handlebars by loosening the allen screws at the front of the stem. Keep track of the stem cover, screws, and washers for later!
4) Loosen the allen screws holding the steerer in place, then unscrew the cap of the steerer. Again, keep track of the cap, screws, and washers.
5) You can now lift the stem off the steerer.
6) Put the steerer extender on over the existing steerer and tighten. You may need a super long allen wrench to tighten it (here’s what I used).
7) Slide the replacement stem onto the steerer extender.
8) Put the steerer cap back on along with the allen screws that pinch the steerer extender tight along the steerer. Apply a bit of vaseline on the tip of each allen screw before tightening so that it doesn’t get stuck when you’re ready to return to your original stem/steerer setup.
9) Now we will put the handlebars back on. Center them on the stem and make sure they’re angled properly! I walked back to the seat and made sure the handlebars felt right on my wrists before tightening (they should be pretty flat). Then put the front of the stem just like when you disassembled it and tighten the screws.
10) You will notice my new stem isn’t all the way at the top of the steerer extenders. That’s because my brake cable didn’t quite reach that far. The good thing about steerer extenders is you can add the stem however far up best fits your bike.
11) That’s it! Your handlebars are now closer to your body and higher up, giving your belly more room to grow. You’ll be surprised what a difference just a couple inches in each direction makes 🙂